Goldfinch Raises $100M for Kidney Drug Studies Now, Perhaps an IPO Later

Xconomy Boston — 

Goldfinch Bio, a biotech company employing genetic analysis to develop new medicines for kidney diseases, has raised $100 million to bring its lead drug candidate into mid-stage clinical trials.

The Series B round of financing was led by Eventide Asset Management.

Cambridge, MA-based Goldfinch is taking a big data approach to kidney disease drug discovery and development. The heart of its research is a database of anonymized patient data, called the Kidney Genome Atlas. This database has genomic, proteomic and transcriptomic data that the biotech uses to identify genetic targets that are relevant to kidney disease. As drug candidates progress to clinical testing, Goldfinch says its technology can also help it select the patients most likely to respond to a particular therapy.

Goldfinch plans to apply its new cash toward the clinical testing of its two lead drug candidates. The most advanced compound, GFB-887, is a potential treatment for focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a rare kidney disorder in which scar tissue forms on renal glomeruli, the parts of the organ that filter waste from the blood. The disease can lead to permanent kidney damage or even kidney failure. The company is also testing the compound as a treatment for diabetic nephropathy.

The Goldfinch drug is designed to block transient receptor potential canonical channel 5, an ion channel whose overactivation is associated with the development of FSGS and diabetic nephropathy. Goldfinch says its drug is intended to stop these diseases from progressing to kidney failure. A Phase 2 study of GFB-887 in FSGS and diabetic nephropathy is expected to start in the middle of this year.

A second Goldfinch compound, GFB-024, is designed to block cannabinoid receptor 1, a receptor found in research to be associated with diabetic nephropathy. That compound is being readied for a clinical trial expected to begin next year.

In addition to its in-house programs, Goldfinch has a research partnership with Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD). Last year, the Foster City, CA-based company paid $50 million in cash and made a $5 million equity investment to kick off the alliance, which aims to discover and develop drugs for diabetic kidney disease and rare kidney disorders. Depending on the progress of the research, Goldfinch could earn up to $1.95 billion in milestone payments.

Goldfinch’s latest round of funding added new investors Wellington Management Company, Ally Bridge Group, and funds and accounts managed by investment management firm BlackRock (NYSE: BLK), Casdin Capital, and Irving Investors. The new Goldfinch investors invest in both private and public companies. Such “crossover” investments are seen as a signal that a company is preparing for an IPO.

The Series B round also included earlier investors Gilead Sciences, Yonjin Capital, and Schroder Adveq. In connection with the financing, Eventide’s Jay Ghosh is joining Goldfinch’s board of directors.

Here’s more on the origins of Goldfinch, which spun out of venture capital firm Third Rock Ventures.

Image: iStock/hstiver